Schweikert ready to battle Quayle in GOP primary
PHOENIX — Arizona Rep. David Schweikert is preparing to take on fellow Republican Rep. Ben Quayle in a primary fight, even as Quayle struggles to decide in which district to run.
Quayle is being pressured by top Republicans to stay in his newly created 9th Congressional District and not move to a safe district nearby and engage Schweikert in what is sure to be a bruising primary fight.
But Schweikert campaign spokesman Chris Baker told The Associated Press that they're tired of waiting for Quayle to make a decision.
"We are done," Baker said. "Our campaign right now, for planning purposes and campaign purposes, we are assuming he is going to run in CD 6."
Once-a-decade redistricting added a new Arizona district, shifting the lines of Quayle's old conservative district. The renumbered 9th he finds himself in is now much more competitive. Ceding a new district to a non-incumbent is the last thing the Republican Party wants to see, Baker said.
"The national Republicans, their focus is on retaining control of Congress," he said. "And seeing two well-funded incumbent members spend their resources in a race where one of those guys is carpet-bagging in, is probably I presume disappointing to them."
Quayle spokesman Zach Howell has only said that Quayle has not made a decision and didn't respond to requests to interview Quayle. Former spokesman Richard Cullen said in late December that Quayle would likely run in the district where most of his current constituents reside, meaning Schweikert's 6th District.
Quayle is the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle and won the seat after a bruising 10-way primary fight in 2010, overcoming negative publicity generated by his connection with a racy website. He went on to defeat a Democratic opponent in the general election with 52 percent to 41 percent of the vote.
Both Republicans have sizable war chests and the ability to add to them. Quayle ended 2011 with $692,000 in cash, while Schweikert had $700,000 in the bank.
The state earned a ninth congressional seat as a result of the 2010 Census, and with a majority of Arizonans in metropolitan Phoenix, the state's independent redistricting commission added a fifth district centered here.
Quayle and fellow first-term congressman Schweikert both covet voters in the northeast Phoenix suburbs of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley.
That carved many of those voters out of Quayle's new district, which was moved south into parts of Tempe, making a safe GOP seat competitive and giving Democrats a chance to pick it up in November.
Already, two prominent Democrats have announced for the 9th District, and a third is expected to formally announce soon.
Many had expected Quayle to announce a decision Jan. 28 at a state Republican Party meeting, but he remained mum during a speech to local party leaders.
That ratcheted up the pressure on Quayle, whose indecision is preventing other Republicans from jumping into the 9th District race.
"What will Ben Quayle do?" state Republican Party spokesman Shane Wikfors said after that meeting. "You've got Schweikert over in his district. And then you've got a whole bunch of candidates over in the new CD 9 wondering what they're going to do. And then there's that remote threat of jumping in the Senate race.
"The longer this goes on the higher the frustrations go about what's Ben Quayle going to do."
The National Republican Congressional Committee is concerned about Quayle moving districts and is pressuring him to remain in the 9th District, Wikfors said, hoping to avoid an incumbent-on-incumbent challenge that appears increasingly likely.
"They certainly don't want to see that happen in the district that David Schweikert's in," Wikfors said. "There's some machinations going on in this - they want to see someone strong running in the new CD 9."
NRCC spokesman Daniel Scarpinato disputed that Friday, saying the committee is not pressuring Quayle. He declined to comment on a potential Schweikert-Quayle battle in the 6th District, but he did say winning the 9th District seat is a priority for Republicans and the announced Democrats can be beaten.
"It is a competitive district, but when you look at the candidates that they've put up, both of them have been vocal supporters for all of the failed Obama policies that are very unpopular now and have hurt the Arizona economy," Scarpinato said. "So they've got very weak candidates and they're going to be running on that record."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.